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McCain's double agent

August 26th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Pop and politics have a long tradition of mixing, but the relationship is not always a happy one. John Lennon”s hymn to hypocrisy stands as a totem for every song with a political or social message that would have been better served by banal lyrics about the whims of love found and lost. Of course, there are songs that did manage to capture the Zeitgeist: Buffalo Springfield”s For What It”s Worth springs to mind, or, more recently, Bright Eyes” When The President Talks To God. On the other hand, musicians dabbling in politics can be embarrassing, even in the hands of the veterans. Even the poet laureate of black resistance, Gil Scott-Heron, exposed a lapse of wit when he referred to Ronald Reagan as “Ray-Gun” (do you see what he did there?).

Valid questions may be asked about the efforts by Bob Geldof and Bono to heal the world and make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race (there are people dying!). It can be said that they conscientise people who otherwise might be indifferent to African famines or international debt, which is commendable. But what is accomplished by these self-important bozos, with their trademark wild hair and blue shades, in the corridors of power? Since when do kings beckon the counsel of their court jesters? The truth is, George W Bush enjoys being felated by Geldof in Time magazine, and he imagines that posing with Bono gives him some sort of street cred.

In general, it is preferable that pop stars just shut up about politics, unless their gig is political or they know how to steer clear from sanctimony. Which would have been good advice for the ghastly Madonna, whom I might suspect of being a double agent for John McCain if it wasn”t so apparent that she is just another narcissistic moron. At a recent live concert she treated her audience to a PowerPoint presentation depicting John McCain alongside Robert Mugabe and, but of course, Adolf Hitler. And another sequence ranked Barack Obama alongside the Mahatma Gandhi, Al Gore and (please excuse me while puke) John Lennon.

The mad prune thought she was doing Obama a favour? Did she phone Obama first? “Yo, Barack me old mucker, Madge “ere. Listen, mate, I want to do something for you, innit? What can I do, pip pip old chum what?” Chances are that Barack would not have asked to be compared to Al Gore ““ who in 2000 failed to beat the pair that does warrant depiction alongside Mugabe and even Hitler ““ even less so to Lennon. And he would have pointed out that McCain is many things, but no Hitler.

Madonna certainly didn”t help her favoured candidate, her egomaniacal delusions notwithstanding. American voters might take their political advice from fat, sweaty bigots on the radio, but they are not going to listen to a woman who once published a book presenting herself with what I hope was fake ejaculate on her face. You don”t see Ron Jeremy campaigning for McCain, under the slogan McCain: A change is gonna cum, because that just is not helpful. Indeed, McCain has more in common with the Ron Jeremys of the world than he has with the Führer. Not in that I suppose McCain to be a prodigious sex machine who has been batting consistently above his league, but because McCain is a nasty misogynist who has publicly and loudly called his wife a “cunt” (a much worse insult in America than it is in Britain). “At least I don”t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt,” that charming man told his wife. It is here, not in hysterical references to Hitler, that Madonna might have fruitfully attacked McCain as an objectionable women-hater who”d probably call your mother “a cunt” too.

And then there is American Dream, that overextended Obama jingle by former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, a man whose proximity makes the virtue of relevance cower whimperingly in a corner. The song is awesomely bad (it might be OK if used to advertise fabric softener though), the video even more so. All that”s missing is Bono glaring with determined earnestness from behind his blue shades. Instead we have the usually likeable Forrest Whitacker over-emoting, smugmeister Denzel Washington smirking, Whoopie Goldberg gurning, and assorted pop stars and other self-congratulatory celebrities of varying legacies posing and leaping about in joy of the Second Coming, until the whole brew of cliché boils over with footage of Martin Luther King Jr making a speech (and guess which one). The deplorable irony resides in the video”s intrinsic racism. MLK because, as the eagle-eyed reader may have spotted, Obama is black. Don”t they know that Obama”s reference point is not really MLK, but JFK “60, or perhaps RFK “68?

If celebs want to express themselves politically, then at least their efforts should be helpful. Unlike Madonna”s slideshow and Stewart”s song, it should be intelligent and strategic, or at least witty or thoughtful. Preaching to the choir (insert your own Mama Don”t Preach joke here) can be a useful mobilising strategy. But Barack Obama needs no help there. Where Obama does need help is in swinging undecided voters his way. McCain”s policies and personality offer many points for attack; comparing him to Hitler serves only to insult and alienate those who are still thinking about voting for him.

And with all that in mind, here are a few politically-themed songs. Most bizarre of them is the effort by Linda Polley who claims that the spirit of John Lennon is channeling right-wing messages from the grave through her. Toby Keith”s reactionary kick-ass song is actually not too bad as far as the music goes, but the lyrics are, of course, gobsmackingly horrible ““ I was surprised to hear that our man claims to be a Democrat (please, no slideshows at his gigs!). JFK of course did not make records ““ this is from a record of his early presidential speeches set to music.

In the left corner:
Bright Eyes – When The President Talks To God (live).mp3
John F. Kennedy – The Ask Not Waltz.mp3
The Redskins – Keep On Keepin’ On.mp3*

In the right corner:
John Lennon (via Linda Polley) – Vote Republican.mp3
Toby Keith – Courtesy of The Red, White, And Blue.mp3 .

And for Taylor Parkes’ fantastic collection of Right-Wing Rock (whence I borrowed the Linda Polley thing), go HERE
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  1. Prof. Festus X. "White Shoes" Throckmorton
    August 26th, 2008 at 16:21 | #1

    Outstanding, my friend! Not only do you have excellent taste in music, but your head’s screwed on correctly when it comes to politics, too. Rock! ON!

  2. nortoncommando
    August 27th, 2008 at 00:38 | #2

    Toby Keith has come out for Obama, being a lifelong Democrat. Just thought I would clarify that.

  3. ib
    August 28th, 2008 at 18:22 | #3

    Excellent post, AMD. I wasn’t aware of Madonna’s PowerPoint presentation, previously. Staggering. The Dave Stewart video is, well, to be expected. As is the Opra-esque haste of certain celebrity parties to participate, or – franlkly – to be seen to participate.It is that zeal of those quick to hitch a ride on the hysteria wagon which sometimes makes me wonder if Britney Spiers may harbour untapped critical faculties and a serial killer rated IQ.

  4. Bitterpill
    August 29th, 2008 at 13:44 | #4

    This is just another case of Madge trying to be shocking and not having a clue (I guess you can only make-out with a black Jesus so many times and claim to be “like a virgin” before people ignore you. “Touched for the very first time”, yeah, first time today). Celebrity opinion when it comes to politics is irrelevant. Their opinions are of no greater importance than yours or mine. I’ve always had an issue about “celebrities” making their political affiliations public because I believe too many people vote for certain people/parties because “my favourite actor/singer likes them so they must be cool”. There is not enough self thinking being done by the masses. Society relies too much on outside sources telling them what’s what. Very few look into issues on their own and even far less look at both sides so as to form an informed opinion.And you instantly lose credibility with me when you compare people to Hitler. No matter what you think of Bush/Cheney, they’re not Hitler. Not even close. Hitler set out to wipe out a whole sect of people based on their religion and his jealousy of them. I don’t think that was Bush’s/Cheney’s purpose. Agree or disagree with Bush’s policies, but he’s no Hitler (and for the record, I’m Canadian so I have no affilation with eiher the Democrats or Republicans. I believe both parties have good policies /ideas). Comparing someone to Hitler is just an easy cop out when a proper, intelligent argument can’t be made and I also think it’s insulting to holocaust survivors and the many who were executed.

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